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melbourne cup
Track staff erect a screen after The CliffsofMoher was injured. Image credit: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

The Cliffsofmoher yesterday became the sixth horse to die as a result of the Melbourne Cup in five years. But how newsworthy is this fact? Not very, judging by today’s newspapers.

The “sad turn of events”, as it was described, was worth three sentences in the Herald Sun‘s full 12-page cup wraparound — making it into the article after the race details, the weather, crowd numbers, TV ratings, and Marwan Koukash’s promise to accept the cup in a g-string if he won. In the sports section, the death earned one story in the further nine pages of racing coverage.

Across town, The Age covered the death in a story in its 12-page wraparound, and including a pointer on its front page. Unlike the Hun, it included a comment at the end from animal welfare organisation RSPCA, which put out a statement shortly after the race. 

The Australian‘s front-page report also gave the horse’s injury three sentences — it left “trackside vets no choice but to administer a lethal injection on the bend past the main grandstand”.

Seven, which was the broadcast partner for the race, relegated news of The Cliffsofmoher’s injury and death to a couple of lines in its race report, to be followed by interviews with jockey Kerrin McEvoy, two live crosses to Flemington Racecourse and a colour piece about the weather, fashion and betting.

The broadcast was Seven’s last as the official partner. Network Ten has won the broadcast rights for the festival from next year.

Across the country, front pages were dedicated to the wins, pushing the more grim news inside the newspapers.

In the past week, the Herald Sun has had four front-page ads for the races or betting agencies related to the race, and both Melbourne papers published extensive form guides yesterday for the race.

Yesterday, the Hun published a 20-page form guide, with seven pages of coverage, heavily featuring betting agency ads. The Age‘s 16-page wrap-around yesterday had more cruise ship ads than betting agency ads, but Ladbrokes did have spots on the front and back pages of that lift-out.

Peter Fray

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